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Blumenthal's antibiotics bill gains support

By Lee Howard

Publication: theday.com

Published April 05. 2012 2:57PM   Updated April 05. 2012 3:01PM

New Haven — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said today at a meeting of state biotech leaders that a new bill he is co-sponsoring to promote more antibiotics research has gained bipartisan support and is expected to become law in the next few months.

"We have made very good progress on this bill so far," Blumenthal said at a meeting of the industry group Connecticut United for Research Excellence held at Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University.

The Generating Antibiotics Incentives Now Act that Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., co-sponsored includes a provision to add five years of patent protection for newly discovered antibiotics. The bill also contains provisions that could lead to speedier clinical trials of new antibiotics that are needed to combat a nearly five-fold increase over the past few years in U.S. deaths from drug-resistant bacteria.

Panelists at the meeting, including Nobel Prize winner Thomas A. Steitz, said nearly 100,000 people die each year from such deadly organisms as MRSA and gram-negative bacteria because these pathogens are developing resistance to current antibiotics.

Blumenthal said a vote on the GAIN Act is likely to be held in May. Because the bill has been included as part of a measure to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration as a federal agency, he said, the act appears to have enough support for easy approval.

"It's hooked to a train that's likely to reach a station," he said.

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